Monday, August 31, 2020

Nine Districts for MoCo is on the ballot - and so is a poison pill from the Montgomery County Council

“The government closest to 
the people serves 
the people best” 
- Thomas Jefferson

The citizen group Nine Districts for MoCo's petitions have been approved by the Montgomery County Board of Elections, meaning that voters will have the chance in the November election to vote to change the structure of the Council from 5 district and 4 at-large seats to 9 district seats. Two key reasons the proposed question received strong support from residents were the oversized, gerrymandered districts that sprawl across the County, and that a majority of the Council all live in the same vicinity of Takoma Park, leaving upcounty voters in particular with less representation on the Council. Fearing the ballot question would be approved, the Montgomery County Council ginned up its own ballot question on the Council structure in the dark of night, to serve as a poison pill if voters approve the Nine Districts Question D.

The Council's Question C proposes to keep the Council as it is, but add an additional two district seats, at great additional annual cost for staff and operations. On its face, it would appear to be merely a selfish attempt by the current members to preserve their seats. And it certainly is that. But the Council above all seeks to sabotage the voters' will through Question C, just as it infamously did with the ambulance fee.

Even the order of the questions has been rigged by the corrupt Council. Note that its undemocratic ballot question, which was rammed through at the end of a session with no public process, input or comment, was placed before the citizen-endorsed Nine Districts Question D on the November ballot.

The farther down the ballot an office, question or referendum is, the less likely it is to be voted upon by less diligent voters. But the Council isn't merely hoping you'll tire out before you to get to Question D.

In fact, they're not worried if you vote for both - because if their poison pill Question C and the Nine Districts Question D both get approved by a majority of voters, likely out of confusion, the matter of changing the Council structure would then go to the courts. And we all know the Montgomery County cartel almost never loses in any court within the borders of Maryland.

This is why it's essential, if you are dissatisfied with the current Council, to vote FOR Question D and AGAINST Question C.

We all know that even if the Nine Districts Question D passes, that the Council will try its darnedest to once again gerrymander the districts to ensure that only one party can possibly win. They may be shaped even more absurdly than the wacky ones splattered across the map today.

But even these gerrymandered nine new districts would, by the rules of mathematics, have to be geographically smaller. Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest thinkers in human history, said, “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” No longer would one tiny area within the downcounty have the power to control up to six out of the nine seats on the Council. And it would be far less likely for seven of the nine councilmembers to live downcounty, as they do now.

It's virtually unprecedented in County history to have a poison pill ballot question designed to sabotage another, where a victory by both sends the entire matter into legal oblivion. But then this Council increasingly has fought an unprecedented ideological war against the very constituents it represents.

So unpopular are its policies that residents approved term limits. And when energetic protesting of Council actions (and inaction) became too embarrassing in 2016-17, the Council literally locked its constituents out of the Council building permanently, turning 100 Maryland Avenue into a secure fortress. A Council of the People, a Council not suffering from paranoia and megalomania, doesn't have to lock out the public.

If locking the People out wasn't enough, the Council took another unprecedented step - it refused to engage in the all-American, democratic process of debating its political opponents in the last election. Civic associations were successfully pressured by the Montgomery County cartel to cancel all of their general election debates in 2018. Washington Post reporters Jennifer Barrios and Robert McCartney were fully aware of this, but chose not to cover it. In fact, they mysteriously never wrote a single sentence about the general election Council races in 2018.

Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.

It is once again time for the citizens to shine a light into that corrupt darkness, by voting FOR Question D to create nine compact districts, and AGAINST Question C.

The Council is again attempting to sabotage an election, this time by confusion. Just remember this handy guide to defeat them: "D" stands for democracy. "C" stands for corruption. Vote FOR Democracy and AGAINST Corruption, by voting FOR D and AGAINST C.

Photo via National Archives

Friday, August 28, 2020

Renovated courtyard reopens with new seating and public art former Discovery building in Silver Spring

The Discovery, Inc. jobs are gone, but there's a new, updated courtyard now open at the former Discovery headquarters at One Discovery Place in downtown Silver Spring. Montgomery County residents will never forget how Knoxville, Tennessee successfully wooed the bulk of Discovery's operations to relocate to the Scruffy City, while the County Council was busy debating a ban on circus animals.
But you may have forgotten my 2019 report on the renovations the building's new owner, Foulger Pratt, was planning to attract new tenants to the vacant building Discovery left behind. While many were on the inside, the courtyard is the most visible update for passersby.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

MCPS teacher charged with sexual abuse of minor while employed at Col. E. Brooke Lee MS in Silver Spring

A Democratic congressional candidate who currently works as a teacher at Watkins Mill High School was arrested by Montgomery County police yesterday, and charged with multiple sexual offenses involving a former student when he was employed at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School in Silver Spring between 2014 and 2015. Maxwell Bero, 30, of Clarksburg ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for Congress in the 6th Congressional District earlier this year.

On Wednesday, Bero was charged with sexual abuse of a minor, and multiple counts of committing a third-degree sexual offense. His alleged victim was a 14-year-old girl at the time, and is now 19. The sexual interactions Bero is accused of took place on school property, police said. Bero also allegedly exchanged "inappropriate sexual materials and messages" with the girl.

Police are concerned Bero may have additional victims. Detectives of the Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) are asking anyone who believes that he/she is a victim of Bero to call SVID detectives at 240-773-5400. Montgomery County Public Schools has placed Bero on administrative leave, and his bond information was not released by police yesterday.

Marleny Market coming to Wheaton

Marleny Market is coming soon to Wheaton. The market will be at 2307 University Boulevard, in the classic Wheaton Manor Shopping Center that once was home to Toys R Us. Among the products sold at the market will be beer and wine. It will be an easy walk from the nearby apartments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hug Lounge coming to Silver Spring

Hug Lounge is coming to Bonifant Street in downtown Silver Spring. The restaurant and bar will serve Ethiopian dishes like tibse and kitfo, and will be open from 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM Sunday-Thursday, and from 11:00 AM to 3:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

It appears the owner may also have been founder of the TEAM Cafe in Silver Spring in 2011. Hug Lounge is expected to open in October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Glenmont teenager missing

Montgomery County police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing Glenmont teenager. Detectives say Alvaro Alexander Garcia, 15, of Georgian Way, was reported missing by his family. Police have not said which day Garcia disappeared, nor what his last known location was.

Garcia is described by police as being 5’ 07” tall, and weighing about 130 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair. Garcia was wearing a black hoodie, black sweatpants, and black shoes when he was last seen, police say.

Anyone with information about Alvaro Alexander Garcia’s whereabouts is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000 (24-hour line).

Monday, August 24, 2020

White Oak Giant to get interior update

The Giant grocery store at 11221 New Hampshire Avenue in White Oak will be undergoing some updates to the interior in the months ahead. Unspecified alterations will be made to about 10,000 SF of the store's interior. Get ready to be surprised. Giant says it will spend $25,000 on the changes. What won't change are the great views of the grand high-rises of White Oak, suburban treescape, and modernist Sears building from the front sidewalk of the store.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Armed robbery in Wheaton

Montgomery County police responded to a report of an armed robbery in Wheaton late yesterday afternoon. The robbery occurred along the street in the 2600 block of University Boulevard West around 4:30 PM on Thursday. A knife was the weapon used in the robbery.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Matthew Henson Trail section to detour for repair work in Aspen Hill

Proposed detour of Matthew Henson Trail shown
in light green, work zone in orange
A section of the Matthew Henson Trail in Aspen Hill will have to temporarily close for several months to repair a culvert underneath it. The culvert in question is under the portion of the trail next to Turkey Branch Parkway at Grenoble Drive. Montgomery County's Department of Transportation will create an ADA-compliant detour for the trail at that location. Work could begin as soon as the end of August, MCDOT says.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Armed robbery in White Oak

An armed robbery was reported to Montgomery County police in White Oak on Sunday night. The robbery took place in the 11300 block of Lockwood Drive around 10:35 PM. The weapon employed in the robbery was a knife.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Demolition of former Howard Johnson restaurant in Wheaton set to begin this week

Demolition of a building most recently home to Mattress Firm, but best remembered as a Howard Johnson restaurant, is set to begin later this week at the corner of University Boulevard and Veirs Mill Road. The Howard Johnson/Best Western hotel building behind it has already been razed. Both are being removed to make way for the Wheaton Gateway mixed-use project, which will include residential and ground floor retail uses.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Big Greek Cafe to move in Silver Spring

The Big Greek Cafe is going to make a not-so-big move in downtown Silver Spring. They will be relocating from their current location at 8223 Georgia Avenue to the former Fat Fingers space at 8213 Georgia.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Montgomery County Public Schools not the top school system in Maryland, analysis says

Prominent data analysis firm Stacker has used hard numbers to determine the best school district in each state across America. Montgomery County Public Schools was not the winner.

Stacker says Howard County public schools are the best in the state. They determined this by reviewing statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, SAT/ACT scores, college readiness, teacher quality, and graduation rates.

MCPS has been in a steady decline since 2010, despite record spending on public schools over that same time. County elected officials have panicked this fall as a sizable number of parents transferred their MCPS students into private schools, and only a fraction of the anticipated number of new students materialized on the MCPS 2020-21 student roster.

Burtonsville Taco Bell construction update (Photos)

I was going through the drive-thru at Taco Bell, and...holy smokers: Taco Bell's new Burtonsville location is getting closer to opening at 15670 Old Columbia Pike, in Burtonsville Town Center. Even the drive-thru menu board and signs are in place, and the restaurant is hiring.
ITEK Construction is the contractor for the franchisee. Originally expected to open in February, obviously the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Prostitution activity reported in Silver Spring parking lot

Prostitution activity was discovered in a parking lot in Silver Spring by Montgomery County police Tuesday night. According to crime data, an incident of "assisting or promoting prostitution" was reported in a school parking lot in the 1400 block of Dennis Avenue around 7:45 PM.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Sprint merges, moves in downtown Silver Spring

Sprint has merged with T-Mobile, and the impact can be seen on the streets of downtown Silver Spring. The unified telecom has also merged its bricks-and-mortar retail outlets into one store at 8668 Colesville Road.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Route 29 Flash BRT station progress in Silver Spring (Video+Photos)

Here's a look at some of the Route 29 Flash Bus Rapid Transit stations being constructed along the future route in Silver Spring. In these photos, you can see electronic information kiosks and even seating have been installed at the Burnt Mills and Four Corners stations, for example. The BRT line will run between downtown Silver Spring and Burtonsville.

The Shoppes of Burnt Mills can be seen in the
background from the Burnt Mills BRT station

Monday, August 10, 2020

Armed carjacking in Silver Spring

Montgomery County police responded to the report of an armed carjacking in Silver Spring last Thursday afternoon. The carjacking took place in the 1400 block of Hampshire West Court, in a hilly garden apartment complex off New Hampshire Avenue, south of the Capital Beltway. It occurred in broad daylight around 2:00 PM, and a gun was the weapon used in the incident.